Logo law and pluralism
Logo Università Bicocca

Griechische Kirchengemeinde München und Bayern v. Germany, dec., No. 52336/99, ECtHR (Fifth Section), 18 september 2007

Type Judgment
Case number 52336/99


Revocation of the assignment of a worship facility to a religious association, in order to assign the same building to another, more numerous, group. Non-violation of article 9 of the ECHR.

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR
Art. 14 ECHR
Art.1 Prot. 1 ECHR


1. A Church or one of its organs can, as such, exercise the rights guaranteed by article 9 of the ECHR in the name of their members.

2. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion is one of the foundations of a democratic society, within the meaning of the Convention. While freedom of religion is primarily a domestic matter, it also involves the freedom to manifest one's religion individually and in private, or collectively, in public and in the circle of those who share the same faith. However, Article 9 of the Convention does not protect any act motivated or inspired by a religion or belief.

3. The right of a religious group to obtain a place of worship by the public Authority cannot be derived from the Convention.

4. The Court recognizes to the States parties of the Convention a certain margin of appreciation in determining the existence and extent of the need for an interference with the right of freedom of religion, but this margin of appreciation goes hand in hand with a European review relating to the both on the law and on the decisions that apply it. The task of the Court is to ascertain whether the measures taken at national level are justified in principle and are proportionate. In order to delimit the extent of this margin of appreciation, the Court must take into account what is at stake, namely the need to maintain genuine religious pluralism, inherent in the notion of a democratic society.

5. In the exercise of its regulatory power in its relationship with the various religious groups the State must be neutral and impartial, which is incompatible with any power whatsoever of assessment as to the legitimacy of religious beliefs or the means of expression of these.
(The case revolves around the revocation of the assignment of a worship facility to a religious association, in order to assign the same building to another, more numerous. In the Court’s opinion, the revocation of the original assignment, deemed susceptible to revocation by the national Courts, does not seem to be arbitrary and unreasonable. It also appears decisive that the association has been offered another place to practice its worship. The application is manifestly ill-founded)